Marc Copland is part of a group of jazz pianists extending the language of Bill Evans and, in doing so, is creating a new abstract face of jazz pianism. If jazz piano could be coaxed to be more thoughtful and introspective, it would spontaneously morph from aural to visual art and would manifest as a Monet or Matisse painting. Such is the lot of the collection of seven original compositions and one jazz standard making up Copland's second volume of his New York Trio Recordings, Voices.
Voices follows Copland's previous New York Trio Recording, Modinha. On that recording, Copland was joined by his current bassist Gary Peacock, borrowed from Keith Jarrett, and drummer Bill Stewart. Copland followed a similar mix of originals and standards as on Voices, repertoire choices easily given to a more impressionistic treatment. Better than the majority of piano trios currently performing, Copland's trios free their collective performances from the constraints of harmonic consideration but not to the extent of total freedom (like that of the 1960s Jimmy Guiffre Trio). From a practical point of view, this loops in the music just enough to appeal to the more mainstream listeners, while still challenging them musically, just as Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern are more easily digestible when previously acquainted with Charles Ives and Aaron Copland.
The pianist's approach is well-documented on Voices' sole standard, Miles Davis' "All Blues." Copland further softens the tonal palette effected by Bill Evans on the original, reducing the theme to a whisp; but not so much so as to lose the integrity of the piece. Copland and Peacock translate this tonal softening to the Peacock compositions making up the bulk of the disc. The bassist's "Vignette" quotes John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964) before seeking out an even more abstract lullaby rhythm that transmogrifies into a nervous, dysphoric dream. The title piece, also by Peacock, begins in an anxious, descending unison before dispersing into a more relaxed (though not completely) motif.
Copland's composition are likewise. The pianist plumbs the well offered by his instrument, coaxing forth layers upon layers of harmonies, caressing melodies, dissolving into one another like the pastel hues of a watercolor. Marc Copland is a Wild West pioneer quietly redefining jazz piano and the art of the trio on the cutting edge.
Vignette; Albert; River
Marc Copland: piano; Gary Peacock: bass; Paul Motian: drums.
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